What’s Normal for Email Click-Through Rates?

October 3, 2013

You can’t talk email marketing without discussing click-through rates, the percent of unique subscribers that click a link in your email out of the total number of unique opens. CTR gives you an idea of how engaged your readers are, so it should be an integral metric in your email campaign. The first step in any marketing initiative should be setting a goal, but where to start?

Know your industry

I remember the first time I checked out click-through rates – I was floored at how low they were. Five percent click through sounded abysmal for a non-profit email, until I checked out stats on others in my industry, and found out it was actually pretty high.

MailChimp has a nifty chart breaking down average email CTR by industry, which can help you get an idea of where you stand. That said, there’s always room to improve if you’re above the rate, and if you’re below, there could be several factors keeping you down.

Keep the email short

It’s a fact: even people who care deeply about your cause or product have a limited amount of time they will spend reading your marketing material. At the same time, no one wants to feel like they’re missing out, so keep emails short to let readers “achieve” the page.

What does this mean? Put in great information, but don’t overwhelm your readers. They should be able to go through the body of the email quickly, leaving time to click your links. (From there, it’s your job to keep them on your website – another beast.) I like to use the amount of time first-time users spend on your website homepage as a gauge, but there’s no exact science.

Limit the number of URLs you use

Think about going out to eat with friends: it is always easier to pick a new restaurant when someone has a taste for something (as opposed to being open to anything). Similarly, when a subscriber reads your email, you want to give them a direction, making it easier for them to make a decision on what to click. If you give readers too many options, they may get overwhelmed and not click anything – the marketing equivalent of just getting take-out. As we discussed previously, you have a limited amount of time to grab your reader. 

Repeat links

Having multiple links means subscribers are more likely to click through to a given URL – there are more opportunities.  Each person that clicks even a single link will raise your stat. On the other hand, many emails link to a handful of URLs, so make sure to not over-do it. Click-heavy readers may think that all links go to the same place and stop clicking, and you clearly want to push each URL. And as before, you don’t want to overwhelm readers with too many link options, even if they are going to the same place. So how many times do you link a URL?

Tell them what they are clicking

What are the reasons someone would click through to your link? For an exercise tracking app, it may be that it can save you money, improve your health, and connect to other people at your level. In an email for that campaign, I’d suggest crafting a note that highlights these three main ideas, with hyperlinks on those key reasons.

Hyperlinking words talking about what a link is (instead of “click here” or a similar bore) gets users more excited to click. Similarly, if you have a jump in a story from an email to your website, include a juicy first paragraph with a hyperlinked clue about what happens next.

Do you have another strategy for improving CTR? Let us know in the comments. 

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